Adventureland

 
(i)

 

Fairly thoughtful romcom masquerades as a raunchy indie.
  • Review Date: April 3, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 107 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie offers a refreshingly non-condescending take on young relationships.

Positive role models

Characters lie to each other, sometimes out of self-preservation. An alcoholic lets his child take the fall for having liquor stashed in the car. A married man cheats with a young woman who's in love with someone else, though she doesn't confess her liaison to the guy. Workers constantly gossip, and James' childhood friend needles him to the point of bullying.

Violence

Some yelling, arguing, and threats of physical harm. One guy flashes a knife; another tries to beat up a park worker, though his boss scares the guy off with a baseball bat.

Sex

Heavy makeout sessions during which couples begin to undress down to their underwear, though viewers don't see them naked. Virgins are made fun of; some appear to flaunt their sexuality even as they discuss their need to wait. A couple goes swimming in their skivvies. One character appears physically aroused.

Language

Very frequent use of everything from "bitch" and "p---y" to "s--t" and "f--k," including "ass," "hell," "screw," "oh my God," and "goddamn."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of pot-smoking among college-aged characters; they also make brownies laced with weed, then act goofy after eating them. Also, lots of drinking -- both beer and hard liquor.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a review of the R-rated comedy that came out in theaters and not the unrated version available on DVD. From the director of Superbad, which stars Twilight's Kristen Stewart, this will definitely appeal to teens. It's not quite as raunchy as Superbad, but there's still plenty of swearing and drug use (mostly pot). You can also expect some drinking, smoking, and sex (more along the lines of heavy makeout sessions than outright nudity). Characters talk about virginity frequently and sometimes mock those who are still virgins.

What's the story?

With his dreams of backpacking in Europe -- and maybe even grad school -- quashed by his family's financial woes, James (Jesse Eisenberg), a virgin pothead, is forced to work at the Adventureland amusement park during the summer of 1987. At first, the job is mind-numbing, the bosses (Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader) inane, and the customers oddly aggressive. But soon the place starts to live up to its name. Broody co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart) catches James' eye, and Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), the sexiest employee at the park, starts eyeing him. But Em may be preoccupied with someone else, and the life questions that James has been avoiding -- Is his father drinking? Where can he go now that he's done with college? -- are nipping at his heels.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

At first, ADVENTURELAND seems cut from the same cloth as director Greg Mottola's Superbad: crude, irreverent, raunchy, nerd-celebratory, and driven by male hormones. And it is all that, to a certain degree. But where Superbad had a heart hidden at its core, Adventureland wears its heart on its sleeve. For all its hipster cred (the Lou Reed- and David Bowie-peppered retro/alt rock soundtrack clues viewers in fairly quickly), Adventureland is primarily a romance. Circumstances are complex, families don't always have the answer, the best friendships can sting, and love strangely trumps most.

James, played skillfully by Eisenberg, is a lot like Say Anything's Lloyd Dobler: sweet, earnest, and not altogether together. He longs to be in love, and though that may rate him a loser in some circles, he's not one here. Unfortunately, Stewart's Em is no Diane Court. Stewart (who filmed this movie pre-Twilight) is adept and believable as her character, but in failing to add layers to her performance, she risks turning Em in to an "edgy, complex girl" stereotype. And why would James be smitten with anything typical? (Plus, their chemistry isn't exactly sizzling.) Ditto Ryan Reynolds as a married maintenance worker who seems to forget that he's supposed to be older -- and act older -- than the college kids he works with every summer. Still, there's plenty in here to enjoy. Though the film won't likely have Say Anything's staying power, it's a decent, entertaining imitator.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about sex and relationships. How do the characters' attitudes about sex compare to those of other "hard-R" teen comedies? Do they seem realistic to you? Why or why not? 

  • What do you think of James' decision to remain a virgin until he meets the "right" woman? What does "right" mean? Why is he portrayed as being so different from his male peers? 

  • Families can also discuss the characters' drinking and drug use. What are the consequences in real life?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 3, 2009
DVD release date:August 24, 2009
Cast:Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds
Director:Greg Mottola
Studio:Miramax
Genre:Comedy
Run time:107 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language, drug use and sexual references.

This review of Adventureland was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bycrushcrush149 February 18, 2010
 
I absolutely loved this movie. Sure, there's some drugs and sex but it's an indie 80's flick so you gotta expect it and not let your kids watch it if you don't approve. Personally, I thought it was funny, quirky, cute, all the characters were very well rounded. It made for a good time. It isn't the type of movie that I could watch over and over and over again until the end of time but I really did like it. Yes, there is bad language, they do smoke pot, they do drink (but they're not underage so where's the harm?) and they do have sex. It's not graphic, all you really get are references. I would recommend it to anyone really, unless you're just really strict with what your kids watch.
Kid, 12 years old April 6, 2009
 

APPROPRIATE!

SOO APPROPRIATE!
Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe June 1, 2010
 
I love indie movies, but this one left a bad taste in my mouth. The content on all levels would be inappropriate for all but the oldest teens.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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